Saturday, February 12, 2011

St. Louis in Philadelphia

Pasta By George added cheese steaks and french fries last year, and along with them is a food I associate most with St. Louis: toasted ravioli.

Of course the ravioli is not actually "toasted". It's deep fried. Think fried wonton.

It's not the first St. Louis connection at the market. When I first started shopping there nearly 30 years ago, Salumeria featured some Italian deli meats from Joseph Volpe of that city's "Hill" neighborhood, home to Yogi Berra, Joe Gargiola and the Gateway City's closest approximation of South Philly. You can still buy Volpe product at a number of stores in the area, including DiBruno's. Before the U.S. legalized importation of Italian prociutto, Volpe's was one of the best you could buy; it's still an excellent product with good value.

Another St. Louis-Philadelphia similarity: German buttercake. Not all that surprising considering both cities have long-established German-American communities. But St. Louisans (who call their version Gooey Buttercake) are much more passionate about this baked good than we are. It comes in all sorts of different varieties. If you want to try it locally, take a trip to Haegele's Bakery in the Lower Northeast (Tacony), just two blocks off Frankford at the corner of Erdrick and Barnett.

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